Thursday, May 22, 2008

# Posted 12:23 PM by Patrick Porter  

SO WHO WILL WIN? This election season has had so many false predictions. About a year ago, the argument was how much Hillary would beat Romney or Guliani by.

I had a pet-theory about the resilience of the American political establishment, which seemed to explain why a Gore could pummel a Bill Bradley, a Bush Jr. hammer a McCain, or a Hillary whack an Obama.

Too bad about the last case. On the other hand, Hillary has shown great resilience, and a willingness to say or do just about anything, posing as the earthed woman of the common folk while lending herself millions, portraying Obama who grew up on foodstamps as an aloof elitist.

Obama succeeded in mobilising not only a vast amount of money and active supporters, but attracted support from the elite and establishment echelons of the Democratic Party, in a way making himself part of the establishment.

So where from here? Consider some countervailing trends:

First, the Republicans seem tired. As Dan Schnur notes:

It’s hard to remember what an unknown quantity George W. Bush was to Republican true believers in 1999, what with his lineage, his history of working with Democrats in Texas and his fondness for talking about compassionate conservatism.

But after years of watching congressional Republicans play Wile E. Coyote to Bill Clinton’s Road Runner, the G.O.P. faithful were hungry again. So they took a flyer on the scion of the Bush they had turned away from less than a decade earlier.

As for the Democrats, eight years of power took the edge off their hunger to a point where just enough of them decided that Al Gore wasn’t sufficiently liberal and that the luxury of a vote for Ralph Nader was an indulgence they could afford.

(hat-tip, Mark Meredith!)

The Republicans have been smart enough to pick the one candidate with the ability to stand as a critically independent man who is most certainly not George Bush Junior in new clothes.

But this may not be enough. There seems to be a broad, continual revolt underway against Republican misrule. Even McCain may not be able to distance himself from Bush and Bush's legacy sufficiently to counter this angry force. He also has the hard task of balancing his 'reach across the aisle' moderation with his tendency to coddle elements of the hard-core Christian right at times.

On the other hand, Obama's coalition may be more fragile than we realise. He needs a constituency of blue collar older voters, and he needs the Democrats to mobilise and unite behind him to secure middle America.

There is the obvious problem of some voters just refusing to vote for a black man, as well as the damage that was done when it turned out that the man standing for a post-racial American society had spent too much time with a cleric who spouted toxic bigotry and lies. Obama has repudiated this now, and McCain claims he won't use it, but the subject is going to come up.

This election is difficult to predict, not only because of the particular combination of candidates, but because its hard to generalise about American society from a distance.

But at least we might be spared the prospect, as Mitt Romney called it, of Bill Clinton in the White House with nothing to do.
(1) opinions -- Add your opinion

I don't think Obama needs Hillary to portray him as an aloof elitist. He does a good enough job of that all by himself.

My own thinking is that an Obama campaign will be a disaster for the Democrats, a Reagan/Mondale style wipeout as McCain takes the middle and most of the right. There are only two ways Obama can win and neither is under his control. If McCain picks Huckabee as his running mate or if Bob Barr runs as a libertarian, then Obama will probably win.

Hillary is the only one of the two who has a real chance against McCain because she can challenge him for the middle in a way Obama can't.
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